Basanti in South 24 Paraganas district is seething with communal tensions and apprehension that violent altercations may take place between Hindus and Muslims is getting higher. To get the reality it is crucial to delve into a few pertinent facts. Sometime back, local Hindus wanted to construct a permanent structure to the Harisabha temple in Basanti market and had started to raise the requisite funds to cover the cost of construction. Even if lion’s share is being managed by Nemai Saha, president of Harisabha Temple Committee, there is the need of more. The Temple Committee, hence, decided to lease a portion of its property worth 2 bighas located few yards away from the temple. The Committee members also decided to lease a bank of the pond within the land and as per the Committee’s resolution, 12 shops of Hindus only would take place in the bank. The construction of 12 shops is going to end soon. On the opposite side of the pond, especially beside the PWD or Basanti to Bharatgarh main road, the pool of Bappa Dutta exists. While the temple uses the pool’s water to serve its religious purposes, territory behind it had been sold to Muslims where around 10 shops owned by Muslims exist. On 10th August, 2013, it was found that one of the shops had already been changed into butchery and only beef was being sold. This event caused great distress to the religious feeling of the Hindus in the area. However, to have an amiable solution, the secretary of Harisabha Temple Committee Mr. Narahari Das asked the Muslim shop-owner to address the sensitivity of the Hindus and relocate the business elsewhere. But he refused to do so. This was followed by the request of a group of committee’s members but there was no success at this time too. To prevent any communal disturbance, committee lodged an official complaint to the local police station of Basanti and also asked Kausar Ali, BDO, to stop it.
Both BDO and O.C. of Basanti police station assured committee members that no such activity, potent enough to vitiate communal harmony in the locality, would be allowed. But all these noble assurances fell through as the business went on as usual. Being disillusioned at administration’s repeated failures and also feeling the pressing need to stop the butchery, Hindus started a signature campaign. A letter of protest with signatures was submitted to the District Magistrate while its copies were sent to other officials in the local administration. Hindus were gritty to have a legal triumph at this time and owing to their continual petitions, Surat Ali who is the owner of butchery, was detained by P.S. Basanti on the morning of 14th September. But within the next two hours Muslims went to the police station in crowds and forced police to release Surat Ali. While returning from the police station, Muslims created a victory march where highly provocative slogans like “Allahu Akbar”, “Nara-e-Takbir”, “Basanti bazare goru kate cholche cholbe (slaughtering of cows will go on in Basanti market)”, “Pakistan Zindabad”, “Hindustan Murdabad” were chanted. Apprehending danger, general meetings were organized on both 15th and 17th September that witnessed spontaneous participation of hundreds of Hindus. The meeting emphasized need of a strong Hindu unity and formed a local committee containing more than hundreds of Hindu members. Nevertheless, Hindus are being warned frequently by Muslim rogues to stop the temple project and allocating shops for Hindus behind the pool. One can get a hint of the outcome of these warnings by the events that followed on 18th September when a violent clash occurred between Samir Ali Sardar and Bholanath Debnath in Rupa Tailors located at Basanti market. Samir Ali Sardar asked Bholanath, worker in the garment shop, to show a few shirt pieces. No garment was selected and while returning those, derogatory words against Hindus were used by Samir Ali. Once Bholanath protested it led to a brawl. While Shyamal Saha and a few others joined Bholanath, Samir Ali Sardar was joined by his brothers and friends. Its intensity was such that police had to intervene ultimately. Although the clash ended for the moment, both groups were seen to warn each other of dire consequences. As per people in the area, this is a beginning only and will be followed by severe communal clashes right away. Hindus have formed “Hindu Jagaran Samiti” to ensure their own survival in Basanti.